back to article Home users due for a battering with Microsoft 365 subscription stick

Fire up the steam-powered speculation machine! A consumer-focused Microsoft 365 subscription is inbound. While Microsoft has yet to say anything public, a job posting on the Windows giant's site spotted by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley indicates that the subscription, which Microsoft has spent the last year ramming …

  1. LDS Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

    ... maybe they should have more positions for a QA team and senior developers?

    Anyway, a more "consumer" version of Office 365 I'm afraid could offer less features and somewhat simplified applications. They are already testing simplified ribbons, it could be all you get in low-end versions.

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

      @LDS it's beyond testing, and you have the stick backwards or even perhaps the wrong stick entirely.

      They're stripping out clart / minimising the ribbon in actual outlook 365. i.e the highest tier of cost paid for one, it's not just the lower end consumer tiers.

      Anyone running the full version of office 365 (not the web apps, the actual copy of office you can install) with the latest updates can toggle the new/upcoming features on right now, and it includes a HEAVILY reduced ribbon.

      It's much more minimal now, you have to find stuff if you want it rather than it all being there consuming 1/3rd of the application.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

        @mason yes. I got the new ribbon this morning on my machines. You can turn it on or off - or use the minimal one and expand it to show the proper ribbon by clicking on it. It is better than I thought it would be and the option to keep the full ribbon is there. I turned the feature off again straight away.

        1. ThePhantom

          Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

          Luckily for those of us on a Mac, we can ignore the ribbon since we still have menus. Even when I was on Windows I bought a third party package that reinstated the menus. Who wants to search on the ribbon?

      2. LDS Silver badge
        Devil

        "you have the stick backwards or even perhaps the wrong stick entirely."

        I'm not sure they're not testing which would be the right subset of features to offer in a simplified version...

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

      See all those icons on the current ribbon? They'll remove them all & then charge you to put them back. Per icon. Per function. Per use.

      "Want to save that document? We'll enable that icon for only $1 per use. Make payments via the link below..."

      We hope I'm being sarcastic but secretly fear that MS will be doing exactly this sort of shit. =-|

      1. Sonic531

        Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

        I have no fear Microsoft would do this. Apple might, EA definitely would, but with Microsoft I'm comfortable knowing that I actually get what I buy.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

      No, they really do need more marketing, Have you seen the article:

      "The existing Office 365 subscription, aimed at consumers, has been a success, with the Home Edition giving six users the likes of Word, Excel and PowerPoint along with an hour of Skype calls and 1TB of cloudy storage for £7.99 a month."

      "with the Home Edition giving six users"

      A whole six users have taken up the Home Edition of the subscription so they call this a success!

      They really need more marketing!!!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

        "A whole six users have taken up the Home Edition of the subscription so they call this a success!"

        That's double the number of Windows Phone users, so yes, in MS terms that's a huuuuuuge success!!!!

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

      unfortunately (from the perspective of wanting only the BEST QUALITY merchandise available at reasonable prices) Micro-shaft's marketing ACTUALLY WORKS.

      I've said it before: They could sell icewater to Eskimos, in the middle of winter, and use poor quality ingredients in it, and their customers would STILL buy it instead of melting ice or using some other reasonable method of getting fresh water to drink.

      P.T. Barnum was right.

    5. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

      "Anyway, a more "consumer" version of Office 365 I'm afraid could offer less features and somewhat simplified applications."

      It's called 'Google Docs'.....

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Yes, what MS really needs now is more marketing...

      "They are already testing simplified ribbons, it could be all you get in low-end versions."

      Most home users don't really need a full fledged office package and many of those who do use MS Office at home are likely using employer supplied or highly discounted educational versions. If the only option becomes a monthly subscription, those home users are going to need something of obvious value for their money if they are not to jump ship to Libre Office/Open Office.

  2. johnnyblaze

    Never guessed...

    Like we didn't all know a Windows 10 subscription service wasn't coming. Of course it was, despite what MS said in the beginning. This is all a precursor to 'desktop as a service' across the enterprise and consumers. Eventually, MS will convience OEM's to start distributing PC's with a new 'subscription' version of Windows 10 - at a reduced cost to them no doubt - to try and get consumers used to the idea of paying for Windows monthly. MS will manage most things remotely, further dumbing down the OS, and removing yet more power user features. I wouldn't be surprised if this or another version of Win10 finally dumps win32 as well, so people are forced to their app store. Mark my words - it's coming.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never guessed...

      Spot on.

      My guess is another £7.99/month for Windows on top of the £7.99/month for orifice.

      Perhaps they will do £15.99/month for both /s /s /s

      Either way you will have to start paying to get updates (and keep access to your data as well) that may well bork your system and having agreed with the T's & C's, you are barred from suing MS if it does. Stop paying the MS Tithe and you are dead in the water. See that barrel over there... Go and spread yourself over it there's a nice sucker...

      My one remaining Windows system is totally air gapped from Redmond. I does what I want it to do and that's it. When the HW dies then I'll build a Linux system to replace it. Either way, I won't be paying SatNad a bent penny.

      1. BobChip
        Linux

        Re: Never guessed...

        I did guess. Saw this coming a long time ago and migrated to Linux. Home built PC(s), Mint 18.3, Libre Office, FreeCad, Gimp and Inkscape do all I need. VirtualBox for an old copy of Win 7 if I need it, though a quick look at the log says I have not fired it up for almost a year.

        I don't pay the Microsoft tax now, and have no intention of ever doing so in the future.

        Happy bunny.

        1. rnturn

          Re: Never guessed...

          Same here. Well, almost: different Linux flavors. My last Wintel box was converted to Linux some years ago after WinXP decided to scribble on itself one time too many and I decided I didn't want to invest any more time keeping it alive. By then I was only using it for a couple of games that I decided I could live without. Haven't missed it. If I need a Windows fix, I can get that at the office where keeping it up and running is someone else's responsibility.

          1. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: Never guessed...

            Subscription Windows will be great. Open shiney new PC no Microsoft tax paid yet. install Linux.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: no Microsoft tax paid yet.

              My guess is that after a bit of arm twisting, the new PC will come with a years subscription thrown in (at a price naturally). The last thing MS want is for the Linux refuseniks to get away scott free from paying the MS Behemoth zilch. /s /s

              Or you buy from retailers who offer you the option of "No Operating System" and then stick two fingers in the direction of MS at Thames Valley Park, Reading. (I had to suffer seeing that carbuncle every day from my office window for a few years).

            2. JLV Silver badge

              Re: Never guessed...

              actually this brings up a good point.

              when you buy a Dell, say, it comes with Windows. FWIW to you, I realize. that OS is yours as long as that machine, sold to you by Dell, but without MS being directly involved, still works

              if MS moves Windows to a subscription basis, then what would be the contractual effects to all parties if the Dell basically becomes an expensive paperweight if you stop your MS subscription?

              would they be held liable for that? an easy solution would be for Dell to make a Linux distribution available to take over. not good for MS.

              another might be legal verbiage by Dell warning that their shiny won’t work without a sub. not good for Dell.

              1. Craig100

                Re: Never guessed...

                I just bought a Dell XPS15. Said they wouldn't sell it without Windoze so had to pay the tax. Of course I've wiped it and put Linux Mint 19 on it. Their QA is awful. The trackpad rattles when touched, the display stands are about 4" too short with missing HDMI cables as well. It's like they're a start up. Don't think I'll buy from them again. Nice machines, but have cost me a lot in time due to poor service and waiting in for engineers. Still not using the lappy 2 weeks after delivery. AND my 3 year old M3800's battery has swollen for which they want nearly £300 to fix!. So not a good track record Dell!

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Never guessed...

            "My last Wintel box was converted to Linux some years ago after WinXP decided to scribble on itself one time too many"

            Hey, that's exactly what moved me to Linux as well!

        2. overunder Bronze badge

          Re: Never guessed...

          @"I did guess. Saw this coming a long time ago and migrated to Linux."

          ... and have no games. I'll GLADY give every usage to Linux, but not games. It's odd, even the most obscure apps can be replaced on Linux, but you slam into a 100ft. wall when you reach for a game library.

          They need "Windows for Gamers". Doesn't do shit but launch a game from some instant-on state... don't even bother loading explore.exe, I'm not here for that.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Never guessed...

        "Either way you will have to start paying to get updates"

        Does that mean that I could avoid getting those updates if I refuse to pay? Now that's something I could get behind!

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Never guessed...

          Does that mean that I could avoid getting those updates if I refuse to pay? Now that's something I could get behind!

          Is this the Piranha Brothers "other other plan"?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Never guessed...

      "Eventually, MS will convience OEM's to start distributing PC's with a new 'subscription' version of Windows 10 - at a reduced cost to them no doubt - to try and get consumers used to the idea of paying for Windows monthly. MS will manage most things remotely, further dumbing down the OS, and removing yet more power user features"

      Maybe the end game is to supply a "free" WinTerm with every subscription and they get to control everything, including what you are allowed to install on your "PC".

  3. big_D Silver badge

    Enterprise...

    They get Windows 10 Enterprise, not Pro. Most business machines come with Pro anyway.

    Enterprise allows for more configuration, especially in the area of data slurpage and therefore offers a big plus for business customers.

    The CALs for business products, like Exchange, SQLServer, File & Print etc. make Microsoft 365 more enticing for businesses.

    I would find Pro for the Microsoft 365 Home subscription useful. I upgrade all of my PCs to Pro if they don't already come with it.

    The leasing is the only thing that makes much sense.

    The rest of the products in the division are already free or included in Office 365:

    Windows 10 Home - is already installed on the PC

    Office 365 - subscription already available

    Bing - is free

    Skype - is free and minutes in the Office 365 subscription

    Outlook.com - is free

    ToDo - is free

    So, a subscription for Office 365 + a bunch of freebies you already have access to? Doesn't sound realistic.

    A simple rebranding of Office 365?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Enterprise...

      There is no such thing as a free lunch in the MS dictionary. Beware the Ides of Redmond.

      1. HolySchmoley

        Re: Enterprise...

        >There is no such thing as a free lunch in the MS dictionary.

        >Beware the Ides of Redmond.

        True.

        And another company makes you book an appointment with a Genius to sit at a table,

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Enterprise...

          "And another company makes you book an appointment with a Genius to sit at a table,"

          I can make my own tables for free with Libre Office. But I do use a Genius mouse.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux and Libreoffice, no subscription fee required and donations optional.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Linux and Libreoffice, no subscription fee required and donations optional."

      Some people have to use these tools for work and need a version of Office that actually works. Good luck with say your accounts department trying to make to with "Sheets" lol.

      1. Marco van de Voort

        You accounts department will probably not qualify for a consumer subscription anyway.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

        Some people have to use these tools for work and need a version of Office that actually works. Good luck with say your accounts department trying to make to with "Sheets" lol.

        Sheets is Google, Calc is LibreOffice. You've... never actually used LibreOffice, have you?

        The big advantage of LibreOffice Calc is that it will open spreadsheets from SharePoint, which Excel frequently refuses to do because the total path length is greater than 218 characters. This, incidentally, has been a problem with Excel since 2010 and Microsoft keep ignoring it.

        This is why I swear at Excel and by Calc, even for work.

        1. overunder Bronze badge

          Sheets? If you can't do something with Libre that you can with MS, you have bigger problems than software (and if you mention something like Cortana integration... GTFO).

          "Excel frequently refuses to do because the total path length is greater than 218 characters." <---Nice!

      4. grumpy-old-person

        FreeOffice

        Try FreeOffice if you think LibreOffice is not for you - you might be pleasantly surprised!

      5. Tony W

        Downvotes invited

        I have zero respect for MS. I don't need to go over how the behaviour of their systems has hurt me in the past, any reader here will have had the same experiences. But when it comes to office suites you should face facts.

        Libre Office works adequately for many purposes and as it's free you can hardly complain if it isn't perfect. Now that I've retired I can afford to use it, and on my next new PC I won't be installing MS Office. But Libre Office is an inferior product.

        For example, to replace things such as newlines and new para markers (a basic tool for tidying up other people's documents) you have to use regex: a real pita for the average user.

        And it's not compatible with MS. Going backwards and forwards between the two (which I do quite a lot) can muck up the layout of documents. With spreadsheets it completely alters my carefully set up chart formatting. I would never trust an important presentation generated in Libre Office to show properly on Powerpoint - I've been badly bitten. It's unfair that compatibility is a klller, but it's a fact.

        Most non-professionals don't need office software at all or can manage with a free web-based system. But for many professionals, there is only practical office suite. So it's a monopoly: they can screw us and they know it. I'd be astonished if there aren't MS teams generating incompatibilities, so we can't expect that Libre Office will ever catch up.

        1. truetalk

          Re: Downvotes invited

          For example, to replace things such as newlines and new para markers (a basic tool for tidying up other people's documents) you have to use regex: a real pita for the average user.

          Maybe I misunderstand what you're trying to achieve, but to replace newlines I use Find & Replace in Libreoffice, it's as simple as selecting find and replace, expand other options, tick the regular expressions and type a $ (for newline) or ^$ (for paragraph) and then whatever you want to replace it with or alternatively enter nothing in the replace field to remove them, using the replace or replace all buttons. At least that's the way it works in Libreoffice and according to this article OpenOffice too.

        2. truetalk

          Re: Downvotes invited

          For example, to replace things such as newlines and new para markers (a basic tool for tidying up other people's documents) you have to use regex: a real pita for the average user.

          Maybe I misunderstand what you're trying to achieve, but to replace newlines I use Find & Replace in Libreoffice, it's as simple as selecting find and replace, expand other options, tick the regular expressions and type a $ (for newline) or ^$ (for paragraph) and then whatever you want to replace it with or alternatively nothing to remove the newline or paragraph, using either replace or replace all. At least that's the way it works in Libreoffice and according to this article OpenOffice too.

  5. Milton Silver badge

    Is MS actually trying to drive away savvy users who care about privacy and value for money? Perhaps if your consumer strategy is pretty much based on selling spyware shit to ignorant lemmings, it even makes a kind of sense?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes.

      MS Admin.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Coat

      That approach worked for Apple. Drive away the people that want to customise it; everyone gets the same device/experience... seems very lemming-like.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Cheaper hardware ?

    If they subsidise the hardware will there be anything (technical or legal) to prevent me replacing MS Windows with Linux ?

    If not: please will they do the subscription thing!

    1. Scunner

      Re: Cheaper hardware ?

      Based on the way subsidisation on phone handsets and contracts works (or at least used to), you might find that you only get the subsidy if you sign up to a minimum contract term on the subscription that more than wipes out the cost advantage.

    2. Zakhar

      Re: Cheaper hardware ?

      You have to realize they will continue the same way they do today : racketeering + blackmail.

      Racketeering: you will have pay minimum "2 years subscription" with each new PC. Whether you decide to use Microshaft crapware or not is irrelevant to them since you already paid.

      Blackmail: the PC maker will receive a "commission" which is a portion of your "2 years minimu subscription" so that he pre-installs Microshaft CrapWare on the machine. If the PC maker wants to sell "naked" machines, or machines with an other O.S., fine... but then no "commission" on pre-installed machines.

      A "2 years minimum contract" at 15,99€ plus a "cheap" 200€ for the machine, that is almost 600€, the price of an average PC.

      Business as usual. Some things will never change!

      What could wreak the havoc in their plan though are 2 things:

      - "home" users don't need a PC anymore. They use smartphones (and tablets) and are happy with that. No Redmond there. Other evil at work, but at least Google has the decency not to charge for their behaviour.

      - (less likely) the remaining "power" home users might very well decide to give Linux a try, and that could raise the demand for "naked" PCs making the "blackmail" less relevant and the evil plan could fail.

      - (even less likely and scary) they could decide to build a "Redmond-Linux distribution", let's call it Winux, because it is economically irrelevant to support an outdated O.S. (WX) when you can just grab the free Linux, and charge for support of that to home users. That is the last E of EEE strategy... and has begun with WSL. They are also publicly ditching their internet engine for Blink which is open source. That is the state of their irrelevance in I.T.

  7. N2 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Shafting as a Service...

    That is all.

    Alternatives?

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Shafting as a Service...

      Google docs/sheets et al. Its free. Microsoft will find it hard to compete with that for consumers.

  8. Pan_Handle

    Win 10 Pro Essential

    To encrypt - or am I wrong? The simples encryption of MacOS has been a strong draw for me for a while.

  9. Anwar

    Windows 10 S will be 'free'; Windows 10 will incur the subscription; ARM64 'free', X86 chargeable

    In the last few years, many things now run in the browser. Home computers may run Windows 10 S, without the WIN32 stack. A slim, light OS with a smaller attack surface and simpler updates. It runs a browser, and from the browser, you can run Office Online. That's what you'll get with a new computer, and it's "free". With the browser switching to a Chromium engine, and all the extensions available, that will meet many people's needs.

    If, however, you want to use WIN32 apps, then you'll pay the subscription...

    Perhaps what's been holding people back is they currently use Edge to download and install Chrome, and don't need or wish to install anything further (or be exposed to nasties).

    Now that the browser will use Chromium and its extensions, that final step isn't required either; you don't need to install WIN32 apps...

    Another scenario; consumer computers switch to ARM64, run this edition that can't run WIN32 apps. If you want an X86 computer, then you pay a subscription...

    My two thoughts.

  10. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    XBox?

    I believe this is some sort of games console?

    What would be the point of bundling it in with a package? Fine for people with an XBox, pointless otherwise. A 'bonus' or 'feature' that you don't use is worthless. Bit like Amazon Prime - well, a lot like Amazon Prime. I'd happily pay an annual fee for faster delivery, but not £80/year - oh yes, but Prime also includes some sort of video download service and special deals on bling. Neither of which I want or would use. I want faster delivery. Why won't they sell that to me?

    1. BGatez Bronze badge

      Re: XBox?

      Prime also includes a lot of free shipping as well as 2 day shipping. Consider media content an added freebie

  11. JohnFen Silver badge

    That's fine

    I haven't needed Office for almost 10 years now, and I don't see why I need it now.

  12. steviebuk Silver badge

    Renting?

    Renting a Windows 10 PC? They'll need to bring back Radio Rentals then.

    Its a bad idea cause if MS managed the rents themselves, they'll then get a bad name when they have to send in the debt collectors to John & Jane Doe who have been "renting" for a year but not actually paid up.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. DeeCee

    why not bundle windows + office 365 for some 10eur a month? if they dont plan on releasing new windows they need to make money somehow, alternatives are:

    1)mass selling user information(yes they slurp, but afaik its more like apple instead of google/facebook like)

    2)losing money on their home products to get people hooked on them and get money from enterprise

    3)draconian reinstall policies

    4)try to go apple way but i doubt they can pull it off

    people are used to subscriptions now, i prefer subscription over walled garden of apple and being the product with google

  14. RegGuy1

    Windows subscription? Fuck off

    Have I understood this correctly. When I buy a new laptop I'm forced to have the Windows shit on it. Now you are saying I may be forced to pay a monthly Microsoft tax as well?

    Time to go to Linux. I went there more than 10 years ago; the few times I've been forced to use MS it has been, frankly, awful. But if you really do think Microsoft is good[1] then you deserve all you get.

    [1] You must have already had the labotomy.

  15. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Not Sure

    While subscriptions are viable for some situations, I am not sure that another monthly fee just to use a computer will make the masses happy. It might actually backfire and force many to ditch Slurp, Bloat, and Orifice for something else when they realize the are on the hook for another 15 to 20 per month for something they did not pay for before. Once you start adding up all the possible monthly and annual subscriptions you might want to consider which ones are worth keeping.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Not Sure

      "Once you start adding up all the possible monthly and annual subscriptions you might want to consider which ones are worth keeping."

      We're already there with TV. Free broadcast TV, all you can eat. Then subscription cable with premium sports and films as extras. Same on satellite, but some channels exclusive to a platform. Then the likes of Netflix and Amazon. So many subscriptions to so many services, all of which may me carrying something you want, but maybe not enough to justify the expense (or allowed by your budget). Now even the studios are jumping on the bandwagon and starting their own streaming services.

      I can understand why these service are taking off in the US, having seen some US commercial TV with ad breaks every 10 minutes, even ads across the bottom of the show taking a 1/4 of the screen for a minute or so after the ad break has finished.

      MS are just following the crowd, ads in the OS and apps, and then making you pay for that.

  16. BGatez Bronze badge

    reaction

    ReactOS can't happen soon enough

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: reaction

      "ReactOS can't happen soon enough"

      It's been happening for years now, and I suspect will never happen in way as to be useful to average users. If if it ever did, the MS lawyers would be unleashed and kill it dead, even if just under the weight of unaffordable legal costs. It's one thing to build a "workalike" from scratch in a "clean" environment, it's quite another to not have the big boys come along and accuse you of copyright infringement on the API definitions and spend years in court battles.

  17. Martin-73 Silver badge

    The subscription model is full of fail

    Other than security updates (an important but usually fairly minor part of office software), who the hell needs to update.. OTHER than because 'everybody else did and they send me stuff i can't open'

    I am still using office 97. And it's quite functional, tyvm. I need a helper program to open .docx files, but that is free. And NOT A SUBSCRIPTION.

    Continually demanding monthly dues from people for software they should be able to buy outright is a dick move. Making it cheap enough they think 'that's reasonable'... is more of a dick move.

    Office 97 is now 21 years old. If I'd paid even 3.99 a month for it, that would now be just over a grand. Which is plain silly for a word processor with some other programs I rarely use bolted on. MS's proposed price is double that.

  18. elvisimprsntr

    Excommunicated M$ from my home 10+ years ago. Computer stress free life and fatter wallet. What's not to like?

  19. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    What next?

    Renting tooth-brushes and combs? Perhaps shoe laces?

  20. vmistery

    If they go subscription only and no subscription means no security updates then there are going to be millions and millions fewer patched PCs. I am not sure that Microsoft would get away with it from the regulators around the world if I’m honest.

  21. FlamingDeath Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    And beyond...

    The mechanics of all this is really quite simple...

    Old model:

    Build software, market software, sell software, repeat cycle & increment version

    New model:

    Build software, market software, rent software (SAAS)

    A similar thing is happening with gaming

    Old old model:

    Build arcade games, insert coin for 1UP

    Old model:

    Build PC/console games, market games, sell games, repeat cycle & increment version

    New model:

    Build PC/console games, market games, either give games away for free or at a cost, add microtransactions as standard

    Before we know it, we'll be back to the old old model

    slowly slowly catchy monkey

    This is all connected and I would not be surprised if in the (distant?) future, everything will be in the cloud, where it can be controlled, and owning anything except a dumb terminal will be illegal. Of course this just my conjecture and I am not saying this will happen, just saying it is an extrapolation of current trends as I perceive it

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